2017 Annual Report


ARROW Annual Report 2017

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Reflections from the Executive Director


"ARROW stands firmly in its commitment to protect and uphold SRHR, hold our governments accountable in the region and push back against this onslaught on women’s SRHR."

Generating Evidence, Creating Change

"The battles over women's bodies can be won only by a revolution of the mind."

- Mona Eltahawy, author and journalist


Thavy, 27 Kampot Youth Activist, Cambodia Photo credit: RHAC

The kingdom of Cambodia has been ravaged by two decades of conflict and civil war, which finally ended in 1989 with the withdrawal of the Vietnamese troops. Although peace and stability were re-established in the country with the Paris Peace Accord in 1991, years of instability and conflict has left Cambodia with poor public-sector infrastructure and inadequate access to health services, especially for vulnerable populations. As a result, this has impacted sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls.

Strengthening Community Participation, Empowering People

"I am a young transgender woman claiming my space in mainstream society for equal rights and dignity.""

- Maya Zaman, transgender activist and fashion designer


Maya Zaman showing off the attire she designed herself. Photo credit: Emma Richards.

Transgender persons, or hijra as they are known in South Asia, have faced decades of discrimination, stigma, intolerance, and even violence in Pakistan. The atrocities have intensified in recent years with about 45 transgender persons reportedly killed in the Pakistan’s north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province between 2014 and 2016. In many of these cases, the survivors were shunned by hospitals and police authorities because of their gender identity.


RHRN is a global strategic partnership, which envisions a world where all young people are able to access quality and youth-friendly health services, and are not afraid to openly express who they are and who they love.


Our work is also grounded in the belief that by impacting and influencing community structures and empowering the youth, accountability can begin from the grassroots level.


Besides collaborating with our partners, we also engaged with several UN mechanisms through the following point.

Forging New Alliances

"There's really no such thing as the 'voiceless.' There are only the deliberately silenced, or preferably unheard."

- Arundhati Roy, novelist and activist


Mylene Rovera with on of her daughters. Photo credit: Jeremy Hu

In a thatched house, three children—all under the age of five—run around a lanky woman crying, “Nanay! Nanay!” (mother, mother,) while she rocks a one-year-old boy in her arms. When she turns to see them, they run away and giggle. But not all of Mylene Rovera’s eight children are so young. Her oldest is 16 years old. She met her husband when she was working as a house help in Batangas city in the Philippines. She got pregnant at 17 so they moved to her husband’s hometown. They never got officially married because it was expensive. Her husband fishes and gathers nipa palm every day.


At a time when some world leaders are in denial about climate change, it is imperative to generate evidence to establish how women’s sexual health and rights are impacted by climate change.


Increasingly, countries in Asia Pacific are moving towards regressive and narrow interpretations of religion that have a direct impact on women’s sexual and reproductive rights.


It is not possible to achieve universal access to sexual and reproductive health services unless we tackle the root causes of poverty and hunger, and recurring economic and food crises.


Increasingly, more people in our region and globally are leaving their homes and countries either due to conflicts, climate change disasters, poverty or simply in search of better opportunities.


Conflicts can cause havoc in people’s lives. Besides the psychological toll, it also leads to a breakdown of law and order, interruptions in government functions and services, neglect of sexual and reproductive health, and violations of sexual and reproductive rights like lack of access to safe delivery services and safe abortion services.


Sexuality of disabled persons is an often overlooked issue with little recognition that persons with psychosocial disabilities are sexual beings with rights and citizenship.

Opening Minds and Shaping Views

"Knowledge is power. Information is liberating Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family."

- Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations


Female students in a classroom in Dhaka, learning about changes in adolescent bodies, sexual health and the concept of a ‘safe space.’ Photo credit: Jeremy Hu.

Talking about sex or sexuality is no easy feat in the schools of Bangladesh—the eighth most populous country in the world. The topic is shrouded in a culture of silence, religious sensitivity and sociocultural taboo—be it among educators, students or parents. Teachers are embarrassed to openly discuss reproductive-related issues, especially in a co-ed classroom. Female teachers in the class get laughed at by male students, causing them discomfort, while male teachers worry their authority would be undermined if they speak about sex or sexuality.


This is at the heart of our work to advance the SRHR agenda from a global South and feminist perspective. Publications are also key for us to forge alliances and build links with existing movements such as the technology for change, rights to food and nutrition, bodily rights, mental health and psychosocial disability rights, across different countries and regions.

Advocating for Change, One Year at a Time

"When the whole world is silent even one voice becomes powerful."

- Malala Yousafzai, activist for girl's edition and Nobel Prize laureate


Amit Timilsina speaking at the APFSD on why youth should not be left behind in the 2030 Agenda.

Nepal—home to the Mount Everest—is synonymous with beauty and culture. But years of political instability and numerous natural calamities have taken a toll on the Himalayan nation. According to UN statistics, one in four people live on less than USD1.25 a day and this became worse with the 2015 earthquake, which pushed even more people into poverty, homelessness, hunger, depriving them of basic sanitation and health facilities. With 40% of the population considered as youth, the condition is most stark among young people who have been most impacted by these challenges.


Our advocacy is a deliberate process based on evidence to directly and indirectly influence decision makers and stakeholders for the fulfilment of the rights of women and young people and marginalised groups.


As part of our advocacy, we raised awareness on issues that impact SRHR like climate change, religious fundamentalism, food security, disability, conflict and migration.

Governance and Financial Management

"It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable."

- Moliere, late French playwright, actor, and poet

2017 Milestones


ARROW Publications Launched in 2017

Moving Forward: ARROW’s Strategic Plan 2017-2021

The new strategic plan 2017-2021 provides ARROW and her partners a clear path for the next five years toward achieving our vision of an equal, just, and equitable world, where every woman enjoys her full sexual and reproductive health and right.


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